In this article, originally published in Indian Architect & Builder, architect and writer David Robson pens an intimate and personal account of the life and work of Geoffrey Bawa – an incredible architect with an un-paralleled legacy in Sri Lanka and south-east India.
Ten years have rolled by since Geoffrey Bawa’s death and fifteen since ill-health forced him to hang up his tee-square. It’s time to take stock: what was his legacy? How were his ideas disseminated? What influence has he had? What were his qualities? Who was Geoffrey Bawa?
The Kolkata Museum of Modern Art (KMOMA), Herzog & de Meuron’s first project in India, has broken ground in the new district of Rajarhat. The new museum seeks to embrace the city’s renowned cultural past and ultimately transform it into India’s “Art City”. Programs ranging from high-end gallery and art restoration facilities, to artist studios and an outdoor performance theater aims to empower local artists so they may play a critical role in the evolution of their community.
With its current total population over 1.2 billion people, India is the second most populous nation in the world. What’s more, current demographics show that, rather than being concentrated, India’s population is spread throughout its states. In demographic and statistical terms, then, India is ideally situated to provide architecture students with new insights into Ekistics, or the science of human settlements.
Founded in 2001 in response to the ongoing shifts in the urban landscape, the Faculty of Architecture and Ekistics at Jamia Millia Islamia, a Central University, grounds students in the ways that nature interacts with human needs/ethics in order to produce professionals instrumental in advancing a better built environment.
Tourists in India dutifully make the rounds, visiting the spectacular temples, palaces, and forts the country has to offer. But, even when they’re practically under their feet, people often forget about stepwells, the massive subterranean (up to ten stories) structures that dot the Indian landscape.
As this video explains, stepwells, first constructed around 300 CE, were born out of a need to dependably collect and store water. They boast highly complex circulation and ornamentation, and over the years have evolved to function also as community centres and temples. But, as architecture journalist Victoria Lautman has pointed out, with the spread of industrialisation and drought (not to mention widespread demolition), stepwells are slowly becoming derelict.
For two months out of every twelve years, Allahabad in India becomes one of the most populous cities in the world – thanks to the Maha Kumbh Mela, a Hindu Festival that is the largest single-purpose gathering of people on the globe. In an article for Smithsonian Magazine, Tom Downey relates his experience of the Festival and sheds light on how a temporary city can swell to such astronomical sizes and still function as well as, if not better than, permanent cities. It is hoped that the research by Harvard Graduate School of Design at the Kumbh Mela can inform the construction of refugee camps, emergency cities and even permanent cities in the future. You can read the full article here.
Architects: The Lotus Praxis Initiative
Location: Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India
Lead Designers: Ambrish Arora (Lotus, New Delhi) & Rajiv Majumdar (Praxis, Bangalore)
Design Team: Arun Kullu, Radha Muralidharan, Anuja Gupta, Ruchi Mehta
Landscape Design: Akshay Kaul & Associates
Structural Design: BL Manjunath
Contractors: Buildkraft India & Moolchand Stone mason
Photographs: André J. Fanthome & Rajen Nandwana
Dharavi – Asia’s largest slum of one million with an average density of 18,000 residents per acre – is amidst a heated debate between its people, the government and private investors as it sits on some of India’s hottest real estate in Mumbai. While the government is grappling for solutions on how to successfully dismantle the low-rise slum and relocate its residents to a high-rise podium style typology, the investor’s profit-driven approach has placed residents on the defense, “rendering Dharavi a perfect storm of contested urbanism,” as architect, urban designer and author William Hunter describes.
In light of this, we would like to direct you to an interview by Andrew Wade of Polis in which discusses Dharavi’s dire situation and the motivation behind Hunter’s new book, Contested Urbanism in Dharavi: Writings and Projects for the Resilient City. Read the interview in its entirety here and read a recap on Dharavi’s situation here.